Probation officers win suit over free speech rights
Posted: 5:30 pm Tue, April 24, 2012
Four Monroe County probation officers have won relief in their protracted federal legal battle against two government unions for violating their First Amendment rights.
The four officers, led by David Scheffer, filed the suit with free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation attorneys.
The probation officers sued the Civil Service Employees Association and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees for seizing forced union dues from their paychecks for illegal union expenditures. The officers charged that union officials were spending their forced dues on union organizing drives, despite the officers’ objections, according to a Right to Work release.
In 2005, the officers filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York seeking to prevent the further collection of forced union dues and asking for full refunds and punitive damages. The officers won on appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in 2007 when the court found that the CSEA union hierarchy illegally spent $1 of every $10 of workers’ forced dues money on organizing.
The District Court judge last week ordered CSEA union officials to refund each officer. The officers’ suit initially sought similar relief for all non-member public employees represented by CSEA union affiliates throughout New York, a number believed to be in the thousands. However, the courts’ decision only gives relief to the four officers.
“Employees should not have to go to federal court to stop use of their forced union dues being illegally spent on union boss politics and organizing,” said Mark Mix, president of National Right to Work. “However, as long as public employees in New York labor under forced unionism, these abuses by union officials will inevitably continue.”